Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Furthermore, the effects of marijuana on fertility seem to accumulate over time. This means that although teenage girls who smoke marijuana are more likely to get pregnant, by the time a chronic marijuana smoking woman is in her mid-twenties, she may be more likely to experience a delay in getting pregnant.
Despite the relaxation effects that many people associate with marijuana use, research has shown marijuana has negative effects on the male sexual response.
Quitting marijuana can be harder than many long-term marijuana users expect, so you and your partner would be wise to quit as soon as possible, while you still have time to get help before getting pregnant. If either or both parents still use marijuana when the baby arrives, you are increasing the risk that your child may use drugs in the future, and parental drug use is implicated in many difficulties for children and families.
Although the link between marijuana and fertility is not straightforward—plenty of marijuana smokers get pregnant and get their partners pregnant—some research has demonstrated that marijuana use can negatively impact you, your partner, or the fertility of both of you.
As U.S. states, including Alaska and Colorado, and countries, including Canada, legalize marijuana, scientists are working to understand the threat this could pose to users’ health.
As well as the article, the scientists also released a Soundcloud podcast.
Using weed is thought to reduce sperm count, for instance. One study involving 1,215 men found that 130 individuals who smoked marijuana more than once a week in the past three months saw a cut in production of the total sperm count of 29 percent. But the cells were still able to swim and were the same size and shape in this study.
“However, for couples with infertility, the changes in ovulatory function and sperm count associated with smoking marijuana could compound their difficulty with conceiving,” they wrote.
Asked if there is a risk that as cannabis is decriminalized and legalized people will see it as safe and be less wary of the potential harms, Ian Hamilton of the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York recently told Newsweek: “There is a potential risk that these policy changes are perceived by young people and adults as signalling that cannabis is harmless.”
Another piece of research from May suggested teenagers who use cannabis could be at risk of developing memory problems, while another found that teenagers who use cannabis could be at a higher risk of attempting suicide and experiencing depression.
In women, marijuana is thought to prevent or delay ovulation—where the egg is released from the ovaries. A study of 201 women found that the bodies of the 29 participants who smoked the drug in the past three months seemed to put off ovulating for between 1.7 to 3.5 days on average.
Of course, men who smoke marijuana do get women pregnant. But some men are more fertile than others, or are more fertile at different times of their lives. Smoking marijuana, Burkman warns, will make a borderline-infertile man frankly infertile.
“The reason men have millions of sperm is because the fertility process is more difficult than people think,” Dominguez tells WebMD. “The whole process of ascending up the tract to the fallopian tubes and then finding the egg is delicately balanced.”
The smokers weren’t the only ones who got high. The drug affected their sperm, too. These stoned sperm party hard. And then? They burn out, researchers say.
Marijuana and Fertility Timing
Burkman announced the findings at this week’s meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Burkman’s team studied only men. But she says that when women smoke marijuana, the active ingredient — THC — appears in their reproductive organs and vaginal fluids. Sperm exposed to this THC are likely to act just as sperm exposed to THC in the testes.
“When women smoke marijuana, nicotine, or other drugs, their reproductive fluids contain these drugs,” Burkman says. “The woman smoking marijuana is putting THC into her oviduct, into her cervix. If the man is not smoking but the woman is, his sperm go into her body and hit THC in the vagina, oviduct, and uterus. Her THC is changing his sperm.”
So the little guys are fast out of the gate, right? What’s wrong with a little head start?